The use of undercover (UC) officers is a time-tested investigative technique where disguises and pretexts are used to gain the confidence of known or suspected criminals in order to undermine their illegal activities.
UC officers perform one of the most dangerous assignments in law enforcement. They come face to face with criminals as the crime is occurring. A criminal may not hesitate to rob or even kill a UC officer if he believes the person is also a criminal, such as a competing drug dealer. Suspects reason that their victims will either not report the crime, or their death will not generate much police interest.
UC officers must adequately prepare for every assignment they face. If the UC officer is exposed as a police officer, it could create serious safety problems for him and any confidential informant who introduced the officer to the criminal.
Officers selected for undercover assignments should have the same traits any other detective has, and be willing to accept the inherent dangers associated with this type of work. Officers unable or unwilling to perform undercover assignments should not be forced by their supervisors to perform these assignments.